Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we need a bishop?
In our Anglican tradition the bishop is the center and focus of how we do church. Our name, Episcopal, means “of bishops.” The ancient meaning of the word referred to an overseer, and the bishop offers a ministry of oversight over a group of congregations. The bishop brings us together as a larger community than an individual parish, maintains our connection to the very first Christians (see Philippians 1:1 and 1 Peter 5:2), ensures that we practice the faith as it has been passed down to us, and ensures that those called to ordained leadership are appropriately trained and sacramentally affirmed.
What does a bishop do?
“The ministry of a bishop is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as apostle, chief priest, and pastor of a diocese; to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the whole Church;, to proclaim the Word of God; to act in Christ’s name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church; and to ordain others to continue Christ’s ministry.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 855). In practice, a bishop generally presides and preaches at a different congregation every week, baptizes, confirms, and ordains, oversees the work of diocesan ministries, and acts as pastor for the clergy.
Why do we elect a bishop?
The sharing of lay and clerical authority is a bedrock in the Episcopal Church, as is the affirmation of call by the community one is called to serve. We elect our bishops so that the whole diocese has ownership in the process and can feel confident that the new bishop really is our bishop, chosen by the majority of delegates to the Annual Convention of the diocese.
What is the timeline for finding our next bishop?
There are several steps, each taking a number of weeks. First we listen to the diocese: Listening Sessions begin in February and go through the end of March. Next we create a profile based on that listening, to describe who we are, where we are called to go, and the kind of leadership we believe will take us there. The profile was published on May 8. Applications will be received until June 7, after which the search committee will go through several screening stages to arrive at a slate of 4-5 nominees by the beginning of September. The nominees will visit the diocese in October, and then the election takes place at our Annual Convention on November 15-16 in Statesboro. The bishop will be consecrated after consents have been received from other dioceses, on May 30, 2020.
Who is eligible to be nominated as our bishop?
The canons state that a bishop must be at least 30 years old at consecration and must resign from all jurisdiction at 72 years of age. Any priest or bishop in good standing in any of the churches of the Anglican Communion is eligible; however, a bishop diocesan may not enter an election process until he or she has completed five years in the position to which he or she was elected.
What is the process for nomination?
The Standing Committee establishes the process for nomination. For our election, nominations and applications of qualified individuals will be accepted from across the Episcopal Church. Two forms will be made available when the profile is published: one form for those being nominated by someone else and a second for those nominating themselves.
Can other nominees be added later?
Once the slate has been announced, additional candidates who meet the requirements for election may be added by petition. The Petition process is open for ten days following the release of the slate. Petitions require signatures from one clergy person and one lay person from each of the six convocations of the diocese. Forms for petition candidates will be available on this site when the profile has been published.
Who elects our bishop?
The election will take place at our Annual Convention in November. All clergy resident in the diocese have a vote. The lay delegates elected by each parish for the Convention each will have a vote. Balloting will take place until a single nominee receives a majority of votes from both lay people and clergy on the same ballot. The election must be consented to within 120 days by a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of Standing Committees across the Episcopal Church.
How many dioceses are there?
There are 111 dioceses in The Episcopal Church, so a majority would be 56 consents.